Former faculty member returns to campus


Amasa Smith

Dr. Sonya Jones is a former Allegheny professor and advisor to The Campus newspaper. She is also the founder of The Allegheny Review.

Former Allegheny professor Sonya Jones, who is also recognized by the name Swami Shraddhananda, returned to campus to meet with students and sign copies of her book, “Jesus Was a Shaktipat Guru” on April 9.

Her book, which was published in August 2014, examines the Christian son of God, Jesus, alongside other high-level gurus from Buddhism and Hinduism. Jones realized that there were several different areas that needed to be examined in her book in order to discuss Jesus in this way.

“One of the ways that I had to do that was to put him on a stage beside other Shaktipat gurus. Now to my knowledge, this has never been done,” said Jones. “If you put Jesus and you put the Holy Spirit on a stage alongside the master teachers and the sacred energy of other religions, then it re-empowers Jesus and consequently re-empowers the church.”

A 2000 Allegheny graduate, Sandra Mangham, accompanied Jones on her trip to campus. She works with Jones and attends her Sacred Feet Yoga retreats in Kentucky. Sacred Feet Yoga consists of five elements and uses a combination of practices from Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism, Jones said.

Mangham was a student of Jones and worked as her assistant during her time at Allegheny. She still remembers the texts Jones taught in an introductory English class she took in 1996 during her first year at Allegheny. While she was teaching at Allegheny, Jones worked to incorporate the lessons she learned from her ashram into the classroom and Mangham became interested in this religious exploration. Mangham said she identifies herself as a Christian who also practices Sacred Feet yoga.

“I think seeing him outside of a Christian lens gives him his power back, his significance back of what he actually brought to the human race,” said Mangham, referring to Jesus.

Jones was the faculty adviser for The Campus from 1982 to 2000 and worked to bring diversity into the content taught in the English department during her time at Allegheny College. Today, Jones is a professor of comparative world religions in the honors program at the University of Kentucky.